A new report commissioned by the Government has called for a cap on the amount of crops which can be grown for biofuels to avoid inadvertently increasing greenhouse gas emissions.
This has happened in other parts of the world where food crops were replaced with biofuels production.
Instead, the researchers from the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAENG) have said the UK should grow energy crops on marginal land which is unsuitable for food production or housing, or has been degraded through deforestation.
They also called for a renewed focus on converting waste cooking oil, municipal solid waste and the dregs from whisky manufacture into ‘second generation’ biofuels.
Mike Hambly, NFU combinable crops chairman, said: “This report clearly demonstrates the need for biofuels and we are pleased to see the RAENG recognise the role UK agriculture has to play in this.
“The report focuses heavily on the benefits of second generation biofuels – something the NFU has long supported – but we caution investment into this next step will only be secured on the back of first generation fuels and the Government must recognise this in future policy making.”
Vivergo Fuels, which converts 1.1m tonnes of feed-grade wheat a year into bioethanol, has previously said it could face closure if crop-based biofuels in petrol face tight restrictions.